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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bicycle Advocacy in Montgomery County, MD

Thirty days ago Mr. Smith asked:

What are the big initiatives—or the most-effective strategies and tactics—we can use to make the world a nicer place for cycling and for walking, and consequently a nicer place to live?

He also generously and thoughtfully answered this question in this post on the Google Maps: Bike There! website/blog. It looks like a good list, but I have to read it more thoroughly before discussing it any further.

Montgomery County Bicycle Advocates

Last night the Transportation/Pedestrian Safety Committee of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board heard from Gail Nouri. She is the Bikeway Coordinator within the County's Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT). Unfortunately, based on the presentation at this meeting and the Montgomery County Bikeway Program website, the county does not appear to be especially organized or strategic in its efforts.

Left holding the McBAG (haha) is the Montgomery County Bicycle Action Group (MCBAG), a volunteer citizens' group created by the DPWT in 1996. The Group meets monthly to discuss and make recommendations on various issues. Although MCBAG's website displays the Group's goals and a list of recommended priority projects in the county, both are significantly out of date. The Group, its listserv, and its more-or-less monthly meetings are open to the public. The Bikeway Coordinator appears to be the leader of this group, but I'd recommend just going to the meetings. They are held in the Executive Office Building (101 Monroe Street, Rockville, MD) in the large conference room on the 10th floor, 6:30 - 8:30 PM.

MCBAG meetings remaining in 2008: July 17, September 18, October 16, and November 20.
MoBike is a bicycle advocacy group focused solely on Montgomery County-related issues. It has a good list of County resources.

Although its mandate requires it to address issues across the region, WABA is usually the best source for up-to-date information. Everybody should be a member, that means you. Yeah, you. It's cheap, tax-deductible, and they good good work.

The state-wide advocacy group, One Less Car, has a broad focus, encompassing pedestrian and transit advocacy, and pretty much any means of transportation other than privately owned, single-occupant automobiles. Although these are all very important, it doesn't leave them a lot of time to focus on specific issues important to individual counties or municipalities. Never the less, they're doing good work in Annapolis, and we should all be members of this group too. (I'm not at the moment, however, so I can't be to preachy.)

Finally, there's the Metropolitan Washington Council Of Governments (MWCOG, or COG). I'm a big proponent of regionalism, as far as -isms go, and I think this is a tremendously important group that generally does relevant and quality work. Of course, they don't have much (any?) power to implement anything. Oh well. It will be much easier to think regionally after Greenland melts and most of the area is underwater.

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